The Amber Heard Johnny Dip Verdict: One (Not-So) Small Step for Woman, One Giant Fall for Survivors!

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The Amber Heard-Johnny Depp Trial is a shameful win of misogyny. In a society which is already unequal for women, and survivors of abuse go through hell to get justice, we did not need this!

A Virginia jury decided primarily in favor of actor Johnny Depp on Wednesday, concluding that a Washington Post editorial written by his ex-wife Amber Heard was defamatory.

What is all this about?

In 2018, Depp sued the executive editor and publisher of the British tabloid, The Sun for libel after it published an article which claimed that he assaulted Amber Heard and called him a “wife-beater”. A libel is an act of printing a statement about somebody that is not true and would give people a bad opinion of him/her.

The newspaper called on Amber Heard to testify. She recalled 14 instances  between 2013 and 2016 during which she claimed that Johnny Depp abused her. Depp continues to deny the act of domestic violence

Of the 14 alleged assaults heard in the court, the U.K.  judge found 12 incidents of domestic violence had occurred. The verdict by the judge was:

“I accept her evidence of the nature of the assaults he committed against her. They must have been terrifying,” 

Why did this go to the US courts?

Three months after Amber Heard’s op-ed was published, Depp filed the defamation suit in March 2019, seeking $50 million.

In the UK, Depp’s case was against The Sun and not Amber Heard. The verdict in the London court was not grounds to dismiss the suit filed against Amber in the U.S. for the piece in The Washington Post, which was published in December 2018.  In this piece, Amber had not even named her ex-husband.

The trial

The trial in the U.S. focused on discrediting Amber.  Online campaigns for #JusticeforDepps  trended as people united in support for Depp and indulged in a witch hunt for Amber.  I would not get into details of the derogatory terms used for Amber Heard. Neither will I go into details of how she was abused by Depp.  It is highly disturbing. It is not my opinion but we can refer to the verdict in the UK court. To think that a man could could a win a defamation case after being proved to be a “wife beater” is unfathomable!

Why women don’t speak up

We did not need this verdict! Already, there are a million reasons why women don’t speak up against intimate partner violence and abuse:

It is embarrassing

Nobody wants to tell the most horrifying moments of their life to a third person.

It is traumatic

Who would want to relive something that needs to be locked up in the back of the mind somewhere in order to be functional on a daily basis.

Fear of being discredited 

Did it really happen? He really hit you? Was it that bad. 

Not only this,  women are also judged because people feel why would any sane person tolerate something abuse Basically,  women are judged for not leaving sooner and for leaving, both.  Because the best time to leave an abusive relationship is when you are a man!!

Not good enough

In a world where women get killed every day by intimate partner violence and yet get no justice, being alive to tell your story itself makes it “not bad enough” because you are not dead, how bad could it be!

Women are told their bruises are not good enough, they did not bleed enough,  their evidence are not good enough! And Of course as women they were not good enough in the first place!

What happens between two people is hard to prove anyway. And the proofs that women provide may very well be alleged to be manipulated or fabricated by lawyers.

Everybody wants a perfect victim

The tweets on Amber Heard prove how much society hates women. Wife beaters get the sympathy.  But the victim / survivor should be saintly enough for society in order to be supported. A man hitting a woman and talking about burning her corpse is not dissected. But the wife should God forbid have never uttered an unpleasant word or deed in her life.

But she hit him too!

Whoever expects that a woman who is getting hit will not hit back is a fool. This doesn’t and should not make her case weak. Animals also try to protect themselves and attack their predator.  It is basic survival instinct.

Google section 498A

A section in India which had to be inserted because women were being tortured and killed by husbands and in-laws for dowry. Google it and you will find more about false cases, and how to counter it. You will not find articles on the dead women, and battered women.

Litigation costs, time and energy

Who wants the possibility of losing, after losing so much already!

Despite all of the above, some women still choose the difficult path of speaking up and seeking justice. The worst fear in her mind maybe that her allegation may not get proved and that the perpetrator will walk free. Fine. She must have known that, and made her peace with it.

But, for a man to win a defamation suit for a tabloid in which the ex-wife had not even named him, is an unprecedented new low for all survivors.  Pay 10 million dollars to your abuser!!! The additional damage of loss of reputation and humiliation  caused by the media is horrible enough, but for a jury to make such a verdict is beyond disappointing.  It will silence survivors. It will have consequences. It will further empower the rich and powerful.

It is a loss.  It is a shame “Speaking up” was a reasonably new phenomenon for women, as the best women did was “acquiesce”. Whatever progress was made since Metoo movement is defeated.  We are going back in time.

I had read somewhere that law may favour women,  but society favours men. It is sadly true.

 Amber says, “I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

Yes, you did. But we share this loss with you.  I am sorry for you, and I am sorry for all of us.  God help us.

Something reminds me of the quote of Neil Armstrong which I memorized as a child in a totally different context of course:

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

P.S. Anyone who tells me that I am making this about gender is living in denial.

 

 


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